Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Meeting the Real People of Belize!

So much to blog
Mangy Dog.
Mosquito, Mojito.

Meet David. David is the young man that I made the bartender book for. He is 19 years old and married with a child. He said to me, "Babies don't feed themselves." In the US...far too many babies feed themselves. Not by means of employment, but by the many social programs a 19 year old father would be signed up to receive.

David and Sean enjoying a cold Belikin after work.

David was raised in a small village in Belize. He lived in a wooden shack typical of small town Belize life. His father was a hard working farmer. That is one of the most amazing aspects of this country to me. People work SO HARD! When someone from the US sees the tiny shacks, with no electricity or running water, we assume the people living there are lazy, or not motivated to get out and better themselves. This is just simply not true. These must be some of the hardest working people I've ever known. They just don't put the value on modern conveniences that Americans do. David's parents have electricity now, but they didn't when he was growing up. In David's home, there is no electricity right now. He does have water to the sink...all cold of course. In the US, if a young man like David were to live in a wooden shack with his wife and child and no electricity, the government might step in and take the child away! Or worse...the government would step in and social program him until he lost his motivation to work!

David's family was poor. Poor in a way that poor US families could never understand. If you're poor and hungry in Belize, you don't pull out your EBT card and wait for the food stamps to roll in then go to the grocery and buy your soda and snacks. If you are poor and hungry in Belize, you climb a mango tree, or shake the coconuts to the ground. If you've got a hard working father, like David had, you are blessed with chickens in the yard. You could then eat the eggs, or butcher the chicken for Sunday dinner. But what will NOT happen...the government will not buy your food. There is no reason for a person to go hungry here, and even the "homeless" guy that sleeps on the dock is eating. He fishes, and is usually surrounded by a pile of coconut husks. (He sleeps with his shirt over his head though...I don't get it...must be excruciatingly HOT!)

If you look can see the guy sleeping....
But back to David....Here in Belize, education is not a pain in the neck to the children. It is NOT FREE and parents often struggle to keep their children in school. The students appreciate their classroom time. David's family could not afford to send David to high school. Many youths never graduate from high school because by the time a person is 14 or 15, they could be working to help support the family, not costing the family additional tuition. David's family was in no position to pay for his high school education. But David got lucky. He was awarded a "scholarship" and a benefactor paid his high school tuition for him for all four years. So David has his high school diploma. When he speaks of it, he gets choked up and big tears come to his eyes. He feels like he was chosen by his Benefactor and by God. I'm sure he was.
That's another thing about the culture I'm noticing. People don't take credit for their blessings. David never said anything about how HE worked so hard to graduate, or how HE wowed the benefactor... People seem to believe that their path in life is guided by God. That's something I have in common with Belezians right from the start.
David's dream is to spend about 10 years working and making enough money to build his life. He would like to go to the States. I believe that God will lead him to his dream.
...But just in case, I have been looking into a Visa to allow David to work in the US. The requirements are reachable, some hoops and paperwork. (I am getting so good at jumping through government hoops, I'll be a circus sideshow before long.) Sean and I have some very good friends in the Sates who are also business owners. There is one guy in particular who has a resort and uses seasonal labor. There is a special visa for seasonal labor, one that seems doable. This guy is also a good HUMAN. They type of man who would look out for a young foreigner and not leave David high and dry.
Maybe our paths crossed by chance. Maybe our paths crossed by God's own hand. I just know the step that connects our paths is a special one. I admire David and will continue to learn the lessons that I am supposed to learn from him.

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